If you’re planning to visit Disneyland in October (or September), you need to know some important things about the Disneyland Halloween season. I highly recommend you read over this info and these tips before your visit! From what there is to do around the parks during the Halloween season to how to enjoy the Oogie Boogie Bash party, here’s what you need to know!
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When is Disneyland Decorated for Halloween?
Almost overnight the Disney parks will transform for the Halloween Time holiday. For 2021, Disneyland Halloween lasts from September 3rd to October 31, 2021. During this time, you’ll see Halloween decorations around the parks and unique ride overlays and entertainment options.
If you’re visiting the parks before September 3rd or after October 31st you may spot some Halloween decor around the parks a day or two before and after. But overall the magic happens overnight.
If you’re planning for future trips and wondering how long is Disneyland decorated for Halloween, you can pretty much count on it lasting from the middle to end of the first week of September through the end of October.
Halloween Time at Disneyland vs Halloween Party – Don’t Get Confused!
The biggest mistake that visitors make when visiting Disneyland in October is not understanding the difference between Halloween Time and the extra ticketed Halloween Party, Oogie Boogie Bash.
Halloween Time attractions and entertainment occur during the whole season for all park guests that have a park ticket and park reservation. The Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Party happens on select nights and is not included with your park admission but instead is a separate party ticket that must be purchased.
Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party is a special ticketed event that occurs on various Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays (and a couple of Saturdays) in September and October. The party dates for 2021 are September 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 30, and October 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 26, 28, 30 and 31. All 2021 parties are sold out.
These parties are very popular and sell out far in advance. If you are not able to obtain tickets online and are staying onsite you can try to see if the hotel happens to have any extra tickets available for hotel guests. Tickets will cost around $145 with the prices varying based on weekends and dates near Halloween.
While the Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Party is a lot of fun and offers you a chance to trick or treat, see rare villains, and watch a Halloween parade, there is still plenty to enjoy about Halloween at Disneyland even if you don’t have a party ticket.
What Are the Crowds Like at Disneyland in October?
Halloween Time at Disneyland is very popular, so be sure to read my Disneyland tips to help you handle crowds.
Quite a few Utah and Arizona schools have fall breaks during October which causes an increase in visitors, plus Disneyland has a large number of local annual Magic Key passholders who love to visit the parks during the seasonal celebrations.
To maximize your time in the parks during the Halloween season, I recommend you plan on starting early, taking mid-day breaks if needed, and going back in the evenings. The middle of the day is the busiest and the hottest with September temperatures regularly hitting the 90s (F). If you can add one extra day in the parks so you can take mid-day breaks you might find a benefit. October temperatures drop a bit but crowd levels will likely increase.
The new park reservation system and the loss of fastpasses have certainly made visiting the parks a little different. Overall for 2021, I think crowds are very manageable. Expect to arrive early to hit the popular big rides, and then plan on waiting 20-45 minutes for most of the other attractions.
You can see from my photo below that when I went in 2019 the crowds were pretty heavy in October, however this year I was pleasantly surprised and feel like Disneyland must still be limiting guest capacity with reservations.
Wearing Costumes at Disneyland During Halloween
Adults are not allowed to wear costumes at Disneyland EXCEPT during the Oogie Boogie Bash party. This is the one time of the year when adults can have fun along with the kids and dress up as their favorite characters.
That being said, if you are visiting during Halloween and not going to a party there is nothing against “Disneybounding” as your favorite character while visiting the parks. This involves finding everyday clothes in colors that match your favorite characters. You can also find some fun themed accessories to help you complete your outfit.
There are a few specific costume rules if you’re dressing up for the Oogie Boogie Bash party. Find them here.
Disneyland Halloween Rides
The parks are decorated for Halloween, including lots of décor and pumpkins on display on Main Street, USA. But beyond the décor, a few special attractions are revamped for the Halloween season in October.
Cars Land (Disney California Adventure)
One of the best places to get in the Halloween spirit in the parks is at Cars Land, named Radiator Screams for the holiday. The whole land is decorated and other than Main Street, it’s the best immersive experience for the Halloween holiday in my opinion.
You’ll find lots of unique touches around the land including a Creepy, Crawly Cruiser at Flo’s V8 Café, Ghostly Traffic Cones at the Cozy Cone Café, and 30 car-themed spiders lurking around the land. Plus the Cars characters get into costume, Mater becomes a “van-pire”, Lightning McQueen is a superhero, and Cruz Ramirez dresses up as a pirate.
Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree
Spin around in your personal Mater truck to creepy country tunes with a Haul-O-Ween twist. Songs like “Welcome to Radiator Screams,” “Monster Truck Smash” and other frightfully, delightfully dark tunes.
Luigi’s Honkin’s Haul-O-Ween
Hop in a classic car and take a spin. While Luigi’s kooky cugini (aka, cousins) give guests a spooktacular spin around the dance floor, Luigi and Guido add a haunted twist to traditional songs and stories from the old country—including the “Terror-antella,” “The Chop Top of Carsoli” and more.
Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark (Disney California Adventure Park)
If you haven’t been to Disneyland in a while you might not know that Tower of Terror was remade into a new Guardians of the Galaxy ride a few years ago. During Halloween Time that attraction has a special overlay — Monsters After Dark.
This is a special ride experience and storyline that only runs during the late afternoons or evenings. So, you could ride Guardians of the Galaxy during the daytime and come back to ride at night for a totally different experience. There are warnings
Haunted Mansion Holiday (Disneyland Park)
This is probably one of the most popular themed overlays for the season and actually stays in place through the Disneyland Christmas holiday season.
Jack Skellington dresses up as “Sandy Claws” takes over this classic ride along with his dog Zero. One of the special features is the giant gingerbread house that is featured in the hall with the dancing ghosts. It’s specially made every year with a different theme, so be sure to look for it on the big table!
Disneyland Halloween Entertainment
Halloween Screams Fireworks (Disneyland Park)
The special Halloween fireworks show used to only be shown during the Halloween party nights, however this year it’s available for all park guests on most nights at 9 pm. Jack Skellington plays host as the “Master of Scare-omonies” and invites some of Disney’s notable villains to make an appearance.
A tip is to make sure you can see the top left of the castle – that’s where Jack appears. If your viewing point doesn’t have a line of sight for that area you may miss a bit of the cohesive story of the show. There are also castle projections that are pretty amazing, so it’s more than just fireworks. The projections are also shown on It’s A Small World.
Plaza de la Familia (Disney California Adventure Park)
In the Paradise Gardens area of Disney California Adventure Park (by Goofy’s Sky School) guests can enjoy a celebration of the Disney-Pixar film Coco, which is inspired by the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos.
There is a craft section where you can make a paper alebrije mask and pose for photos. Plus, there is a beautiful Memory Wall where you can write down and add your own memories of your loved ones. You can catch some authentic mariachi music on the stage, and enjoy some Mexican food from Paradise Garden Grill while you watch.
A Musical Celebration of Coco is a show that is performed in front of the Plaza de la Familia at various times of the day – check the ‘Event Activities’ drop down in the park app map section to see showtimes.
If you love Día de los Muertos, be sure to check out the beautiful display of sugar masks and three calacas — iconic skeleton figurines — depicting a trio of mariachi musicians in front of Rancho del Zocalo in Disneyland Park.
Halloween Character Cavalcade
The only Halloween parade you can see at the Disneyland Resort is offered only at the Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween party. However, there is a very short character cavalcade that will go through the Disneyland park at random times.
In some ways, this is a traditional parade, but it’s extremely short and only has a few characters. And when I say short, I mean that I randomly caught it starting at 2:15 pm at It’s A Small World and I was able to follow the end of the cavalcade to the end of Main Street USA which we reached at 2:25 pm.
Happiest Haunts Tour (currently not offered)
This is a special tour offered daily during the Halloween season at Disneyland. It’s an added fee ($99 per person for 2019) and requires park admission. This tour is NOT being offered for 2021.
The tour lasts around 2.5 hours and walks you around the parks sharing stories about the history of Halloween and Halloween touches around the parks. You’ll also get a seasonal treat to eat during the tour, a commemorative pin, and a special opportunity to ride Haunted Mansion Holiday.
Halloween Food & Merchandise at Disneyland
Disneyland goes crazy about holiday-themed food, and Halloween Time has too many themed snacks and treats for me to list here. Just know that you’ll find amazing holiday churros, special popcorn buckets, alien macarons, fancy cupcakes, and even some spooky savory specials.
Find the entire list of Halloween food on this Disneyland post. And if you’re looking to narrow down what’s the best, my friend Britni tried all the sweets and shared her favorite Halloween treats at Disneyland.
In addition to the yummy food, Disneyland also goes all out with Halloween-themed merchandise in the parks. You’ll find Halloween ears, spirit jerseys, Halloween Loungefly backpacks, and plenty of other items.
Downtown Disney also has a Pluto’s Pumpkin Pursuit activity that you can buy for $9.99. The board game also comes with a souvenir cup, which you can get when you buy the board or after you’ve completed it. You search around the Downtown Disney District at specific stores and restaurants in search of character-themed pumpkins. It’s so much fun!
Disneyland Halloween Characters
One of the exciting parts of visiting Disneyland at Halloween is seeing all your favorite characters wearing cute costumes. For 2021, character meet and greets are very different and the characters are in a central area where you can pose for selfies with them in the background. You won’t be able to get close to them nor can you get autographs.
However, I actually like this format better than the original. I feel like you’re more able to see the characters and many people have a chance to get a photo without having to wait forever.
Some of the main areas to find Halloween characters at Disneyland are by the fountain at Disney California Adventure. Here I’ve seen Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Oswald, and others. In Disneyland Park, the Main Street train station stairs are where many characters hang out — I saw Goofy as a skeleton and Pluto as a Vampire.
If you’re a Magic Key passholder, you can visit the Magic Key Lounge near Space Mountain for a special photo op with Minnie dressed up as a cat.
For rare Halloween characters, you have to grab a ticket and go to the Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Party. During the party, I saw a lot of villains including Maleficent, the Mad Hatter, Cruella de Ville, and Oogie Boogie. Plus the Frightfully Fun Parade has some of the classic villains like Captain Hook and Ursula.
If you’re looking for Jack Skellington and Sally, head to the Haunted Mansion Holiday attraction in Disneyland Park. They like to hang out together on the second level of the mansion.
Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party
This is a special extra ticketed event that occurs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays (and a couple of Saturdays) in September and October. The party dates for 2021 are September 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 30, and October 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 26, 28, 30 and 31. You MUST buy an additional ticket to attend the party and all tickets for 2021 are sold out.
If you have an Oogie Boogie Bash party ticket, you can enter Disney California Adventure three hours before the party time starts. The party starts at 6 pm and ends at 11 pm. During that time you’ll be able to ride attractions, eat good, grab candy on a treat trail, see the Halloween parade, and visit Villain’s Grove.
On party nights Disney California Adventure Park will close early, so make sure you’re aware of that if you’re not attending the party. If you are attending the party, expect long lines to get into the parks at 3 pm.
Once in the park, you must get a party wristband at one of two check-in locations. When the party starts, guests not wearing wristbands will not be allowed access to any lands and will be moved out of the park.
Trick or Treating Treat Trails
One of the popular parts of the Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Party is getting to go trick or treating around the park. The treat trails more of a visual experience and most have villains characters putting on a show in the middle of the line.
TIP: bring a tote back or large backpack for all the candy. The small bag you’re given for the party will hold about two trails worth of goodies. If you don’t want to carry a bag of candy around the park, consider renting a locker at the front of DCA. It’s $7 for a small locker and $10 for a large. This can also work well if you need to change your costume or bring a jacket for cool evenings.
In years past Disney has done a fabulous job of making special tokens and treats available for kids/adults with food allergies at Halloween parties. For 2021, I was disappointed to note that no one had any idea of any special allergy-friendly options. A few cast members offered to pick out “safe” candy options, although they were still combined with the other candy, many containing peanuts.
There was mention of there being tattoos available, however, no cast member was ever able to find them or tell me where to get them. In addition to candy, the treat trails do have one set of alternative snacks like applesauce, pretzels, apple slices, and grapes.
Frightfully Fun Parade
Disney Parks parades are a must-see in my opinion. Especially if you have young kids. They are a fabulous way to see some of your favorite characters and watch some fun choreographed dance routines. The Frightfully Fun Parade is only available to guests of the Oogie Boogie Bash party. During this parade, you’ll see some of the most popular villains from Disney movies.
Oogie Boogie Bash Dining Package
If you want to have reserved viewing for the Frightfully Fun Parade, you can book one of two Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Parade dining packages. You can read my full review and comparison of Wine Country Trattoria versus Sonoma Terrace Dessert Parade packages.
The Wine Country Trattoria dining package is from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Oogie Boogie Bash party nights. It costs $55 for adults and $40 for kids and is a 3-course prix-fixe meal.
For $84 you can reserve a spot at the Sonoma Terrace Dessert Party where you’ll have a seat at a table for your view of the parade in addition to getting a plate of desserts and a couple of drinks.
Mickey’s Trick or Treat Show
This is a great show for families with young kids. It’s a stage show in the same theater where Disney Junior takes place and gives kids a chance to see Mickey and his friends in costume and have a dance party. Kids will also get some candy.
This is a spooky walk through the Redwood Creek Challenge area where you’ll see some villainous touches and sounds along the way. I think it’s supposed to feel like a story of entering a spooky forest but finding your way out just in time.
I’ll be honest that I liked the concept and atmosphere at Villain’s Grove, however, it’s certainly not something I’d wait a lot of time for. Some of the villains are hard to spot and you have to be standing in the right spot at the right time to see them as they are projections that appear and disappear in the haunted woods.
For kids, I could see them really being disappointed in Villain’s Grove. It’s dark so you can’t run and play, there’s no candy, and the wait times can be pretty long. If you see a long line I recommend you skip this area and come back again later knowing that it’s really no big deal if you miss this.
That being said, if you’re into photography, this area has some exciting areas that photograph nicely.
Photos to Capture at Disneyland Halloween Time
One of the most classic photos I highly recommend is at the start of Main Street in front of the big Mickey pumpkin. Sure, there will be a line, but it moves fairly fast and will make for a unique memory for years to come. There are two sides to the big Disneyland Halloween pumpkin, one is a smiling Mickey face and the other side has a winking Mickey face.
If you’re paying for Photopass, make sure you get some “magic shots” in front of the Headless Horseman on Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure.
And don’t forget to check out my list of Disneyland Halloween characters above and try to capture some of the classic characters in their Halloween costumes.
I’ll also recommend that you consider visiting the Grand Californian Hotel lobby to see their giant gingerbread Halloween house.
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